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First of all, I am "inspired" by meshed (who happens to be one of my real good buddies on Campus @ IIM L)- which is why I'm posting her eon this thread! - Anyway, glad to share my story! :)
We all have our stories of having made it to an IIM or to the B Schools of our choice. Honestly, given the Demand-Supply mismatch for higher education in India, it toughens us up - and I consider that to be a blessing in disguise. Darwin couldn't have been more right about the Survival of the Fittest!
I graduated with Computer Engineering form BIT Mesra in 2006. Did not take the CAT in my final year (CAT 2005) - Was president of a club, member of the Placement Cell and more importantly, was part of a rock-band in college - so I chose to make the most of my final year of engineering college!
That's when it all started. I chose to work for Cognizant - Did not sit for other (read: better) companies 'coz I wanted to stay home - spend time with family since I had been away for a while and of course, prepare for CAT in the comfortable confines of my home. Started in July - thinking I had supernatural abilities and 4 months would be "sufficient." I was actually suffering from - what I call = the "good engineering college syndrome" - which forces everyone to beleive that he / she has the Midas Touch! - I was surprised to be proved wrong. I joined IMS, Kolkata - Weekend batch and took only the SimCATs on Sunday Mornings at Bhowanipore College, Kolkata (Popularly known as "Bhaggu").
As expected - my ego was slashed to pieces and I "secured" a 92.45 percentile in CAT 2006!
Citius, Fortious, Altius, I thought! I started preps a little earlier in May. My monotonous job as a software engineer at a "top-tier IT Services Company" continued. I had a hard time spending time in office and had a harder time putting my idle mind (idle throughout the day) to work at night once I got back. Basically a desk job at these "IT firms" makes u so brain-dead sometimes - to add to that I was in Software Testing! Anyway, I joined TIME "this time" - a special program for CAT "Repeaters" - which was decent. I had scored low in QA in CAT 2007 - so I was all out to reverse that - being an engineer scoring a low QA was blasphemy. My CAT 2007 results turned out better than CAT 2008. - 98.09 Percentile.
Calls from IMT Ghaziabad, MDI Gurgaon.
IMT Ghz - Convert. Did not Join.
MDI Ggn - Waitlisted. I found the MDI selection process to be a little skew. As far as I could see it, the output of thier interview process was "binary". Percentile was so heavily weighted that there was hardly anyone above me with a lower percentile than me - and vice versa.
Anyway - "Jo hota hai, achhe ke liye hota hai!" - I thought. I was REALLY keen on making it to MDI Last year. I didn't. But I was determined that if my business education has to start NOW, it will!
I started finding out about making a career shift. Having been a debator and a passionate communicator, I knew that Marketing was worth giving a shot. Being an engineer and having IT work ex, the only firms that would consider me would be start-ups. I spoke to a few, interviewed 5 rounds with a start-up founded by some IIM A alumni and finally joined it. I decided to leave the "comfortable confines of my IT Cubcile in my hometown Kolkata" to pursue the hard life of joinind a company in it's nascent stages in Mumbai.
Working at a start-up (and living on my own) meant long hours, 6 (if not 7) -day weeks, roaming around on local trains for meetings all over Mumbai and coming back home - tired and figuring out my dinner. I still made sure I took out time for 2 things:
1. My Blog - TalkingTails.in - and it paid off coz I got selected among 10 blogs by The Economic Times and earned an invite to the "Power of Ideas" event.
2. CAT 2008! - I got back late. But I ensured that I studied. I cut down on my sleep. Perhaps what also made things slightly easier was the fact that I was working with a GOOD set of people - a bunch that had passed out of the IIMA Campus, there were people from the IITs, the Army - so I knew that this is what I wanted to do. My "downside" had been lowered. I had a "Life beyond CAT now" - and I was excited about it. Anyhow, I worked hard and managed a GD / PI call from IIM L.
I was thrilled - but was weary of the pitfalls. It would take ONE bad day to take my 'L'one call away from me. I prepared to the minutest detail. I was fortunate to have some amazing friends who helped me tweak things to the the smallest detail possible. Finally my interview went off well. I had my fingers crossed though - and was THRILLED to have converted my only call.
MORAL OF THE STORY: If you've given things a shot and they aren't working out. Try out something different. There's no point doing the same thing all over again. No one can "deny" you anything. Everyone wants to study at an IIM - but well - If you can't make it, does not mean you don't learn "BUSINESS" or don't get to be a manager.
Honestly speaking, I have learnt a hell lot of business working in Mumbai - and that was one year that I was supposed to be in B School. So, if you want something, seek it! :)
Cheers - And all the very best to all "seekers!"
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I thought I must recount my story because some fun is definitely good for health.
I am a Bihari, the same one to whom IIT or IIM is a big brand. And I am also an egoistic brat who believes that cracking these exams make you superior to the masses.
Like other IITians I also went for CAT in my last year. It was a fiasco. And the reason would make you laugh. My sister stays at Calcutta and I had gone to her place a day earlier to take my exam. And man I ate something ungodly.... I think some vegetable with lots of corns followed by a glassful of milk. And yes my tummy hurt but not so much that I could predict it could ruin my day.. my D-day. On the morning of CAT it did hurt real bad. After taking some pain-killers I somehow managed to reach the center and flopped down on the pavement in front of the main gate. I was trying to soothe my pain by adopting a number of awkward postures and it seemed to help. When I took my seat in the exam hall, I felt like Neo. Don't think you are, know you are. So I stopped thinking that I am feeling no pain and started trying to know I feel no pain. And I succeeded for 15 minutes which I must say were sufficient to get me all the score I could in quant. Beyond that, it was complete and utter comedy. A cruel end of my months of preparation. I ended up in bathroom though it was not allowed (examiner took pity on me). I also ended up drinking a lot of pudin hara. Well, I got 88.88. I could have gone to Shillong, I guess. :)
I am getting bored. Well, I was in some company which paid me 4.4 lpa. Not enough and IT was something I hated from the core of my heart (prejudices die hard). Yet now I like it somewhat. Coming back, CAT was the only escape route I could see. I started taking the mock tests (TIME) and devoted some time after company. It helped that my room mate was also preparing and that he was also from IIT-KGP. What helped more was that being IITians we were enjoying such fabulous salaries. I was still not that serious, a frustrated mind never is. The trigger was another friend of mine who was in a better company (monetarily) and was cracking AIM-CATs quite easily. He was getting 99 with ease and I had not managed even one. The day he told me this was the turning point. Almost two weeks from then I hardly got a Still, ABLIK was good enough for me and I converted AL with wait list in IK. Now I am on the seventh sky and euphoria has not yet worn off me. But I must tell you I like studying hard. Afterall, it lets me prove to the masses that I am a cut above the rest. :P
Btw, more philosophically I don't believe in superiority of any individual. Everyone is potentially divine and potentially perfect, Swamiji said. And I value his words more than anyone else because I studied in Ramakrishna Mission, a school he founded.
u hav really unusual story....!!! but cheers...!!! u're living ur dream now....
its realy cool dude..bt strange..gud
My CAT story started in my 3rd year of graduation. Was not sure about what I wanted to do but was sure that pursuing a career in core electronics wasn't my cup of tea. Joined CL, wondering what this CAT experience would be like.. not knowing whether i was good enough or average or pathetic at these things. (Was preparing for CAT 2007)
To my pleasant surprise, I seemed to have a flair for CAT. Was quite good in quant and DI but was not sure how good I was in the verbal section. Worked very hard, decided to screw my placements and study for CAT.
Mock season started.. I was taking mocks from both TIME and CL and to my pleasant surprise, I was doing very well in both.. got over 99.7 %ile on an average on most occasions and was able to maximize in all 3 sections. In the meanwhile, I also got placed in a pretty good firm but still... focus was on CAT
CAT 2007: What I had feared had come true. The verbal section was as ambiguous and had an element of luck just like it was in CAT 2006. I spent some 75 min in the verbal section to try and attempt as many as i could (17 out of 25!) in that absurd section so that i could just clear the sectional cut offs. As things turned out, I did clear the sectional cut-off... got 95.3+ %iles in all 3 sections but the overall percentile was just 98.95. It was a kind of a shoker for me cause I did not get any IIM calls that year. Initially, I faced it strongly but then I got a little upset at not being able to do well after a strong mock season.. Got calls from IIFT, MDI and FMS. Did not attend IIFT and MDI interviews (liked these institutes but.. i just wasn't in the mood). Went for the FMS interview without preparation and couldn't clear it.
After the B-school season.. Focus was now on the job. Wanted to get about 2 years work ex now and thought about taking CAT seriously in 2009. In June 2008, some coaching institutes started their mocks and my friends sometimes used to come to my home to discuss how they did and talk about selection of questions etc etc.. It made me miss the mock season (I really loved taking these tests).. So I decided joining the TIME test series just for fun..
To my surprise, although i had not studied for a second since CAT 2007, my performance in mocks was still very strong... it was actually a little stronger than my previous season.. Kept scoring over 99.85%ile and even got top 10 finishes in some mocks at TIME (and at CL too, which i joined a little later on). I did not study, did not analyze mocks.. did not do anything except take the mocks but still, the performances were good..
CAT 2008: Liked the question paper right from the start.. Had decent attempts and by evening, I knew that it would be the turning point of my life.. My scores...
when the result came out on January 9th, I had the best day of my life. Also managed 99.85 %ile in XAT and got a call from XLRI. Now there was another battle to be fought.. balancing the GDPI preparation with work.. I wont get into the details here but things got very... very hectic for me. To read an assessment of my interviews, you may click here:
I had calls from IIMs BLACKI, XLRI and MDI.. Converted calls from IIMs CBLKI, XLRI and MDI.. And I am heading to Joka day after tomorrow
Aaahfinally a chance to post on the most sacred thread of PG. Thank you God ! I have been dreaming of posting this since last one year !
Although a bit late, but I'm doing it nevertheless.
It was the third year of my engineering when my friends and family started encouraging me to take up CAT. I had always been a technical guy, and this was the reason that I took up engineering. So I could never really convince myself, why I should take up this exam. My parents' reason was simple- they wanted a better career for me. Now, this is where many people lose their direction. And believe me, if this is the sole reason with which one prepares for CAT or any management entrance test for that matter, chances are really slim that he/she would be able to make it to the B-School of his/her choice.
So my first attempt on CAT was just to make my parents and peers feel happy of the fact that I gave this exam on their recommendation. Any guesses on my percentile that year ? Even I don't remember correctly- it was 75.xx overall
Although I didn't prepare even a bit, I felt really bad somewhere inside me. I had never fared this bad in any of my exams in my life. This event sort of- planted a sampling of revenge in me. I wanted to show the world that even I can score well in this much-hyped aptitude test. But then, I thought, should I prepare for CAT just for the heck of it ? Will this really be worth the effort ? Naaah
Well, time went and I joined a software firm of my choice. And that is when my real motivation started. On the very first day of my induction, I saw six hundred guys and gals sitting in a large room, being briefed about the rules and regulations of the company. I felt a severe loss of identity here. Just then, we were asked to sign a bond of fifteen months. I wanted to stand up and run away- but I couldn't, since I didn't have any other option. I tried to calm myself. I told myself that if this is the way I have to prove myself, then so be it. Six hundred/seven/eight or a thousand- bring them on. If I have it in me, I'll do well in any situation. I am not going to be afraid of this crowd. Period.
Guys, this was one turning point of my career. Let me tell you, even at this point, I was not thinking of CAT. I just wanted to do well in my organisation, and believed in myself. Then the training started, and I did well in most of the tests. Our training was scheduled to get over by November- the CAT month The training had a really gruelling schedule- I had to wake up at 6:30 to catch the company bus, and returned home by 10. Boy ! That was really one hectic period.
Around the same time, I realized that the "revenge" sampling had grown to a tree. I was doing well in my training tests. I decided to give CAT another shot, with at least some preparation this time, so I joined a "test series". My scores were nothing short of a sine wave. I couldn't make out anything of my mock scores. I had no idea of strategizing, question selection, speed and time management et al.
Result: 78.xx in CAT-07, and similar pathetic results for some other exams that I wrote.
Meanwhile, I got into a project, and work started in full swing. Just when I had joined the team, a senior guy left to pursue his MS. I was given a hell lot of work to do, with little time to think for my career. Nevertheless, I got a lot of appreciation from my managers and the client for my single handed and efficient handling of work related issues. Two months went by like this in a jiffy. It was then that I realized that I am capable of doing much more. The work that I was doing seemed very mundane and process-oriented. There was little room to voice your own ideas/opinions even if it could greatly improve the whole process. Soon, I started feeling that the office hierarchies, egos and "policies" always tried to pull me down whenever I tried to rise up. I needed to equip myself with some more skills to bring myself to the front end of an organisation, and give me some authority to make decisions, or at least suggestions. And for me, an MBA fitted in perfectly for this purpose. I saw MBA as an investment, which would make me a much better equipped individual, from the industry perspective, and also complement my existing skill-set.
I started working hard for CAT'08. I joined the TIME AIMCAT test series this time. I had only one study strategy- be regular. I used to spend a fixed amount of time everyday for my preparation, and work on my weak areas. As posted by senior puys many times, mocks are very very important for your preparation. Each mock would tell you your weak areas/sections. Work diligently towards improvement, and you would definitely see the results. An occasional dip in the scores does happen; don't ever get disheartened by such events. In the end it's how well you perform on the D-day, which in turn depends how much time you have spent on analysing your mock tests and worked on strategising.
Finally, the results came. Though I didn't do brilliantly, but it was enough to get calls from a few decent institutes. My overall CAT score was 96.25, with decent sectional break-ups. I also managed to do well in some other exams like XAT, SNAP, NMAT, and had a total of ten GD-PI calls by the end of the results season.
Now came the GD-PI season. I didn't have the time to join any coaching for this, since they mostly had their classes on weekends, and I felt that spending 6-7 hours of this precious time would be more of a waste. Instead, I decided to invest this time in improving my GK, something where I was really bad at. I concentrated more on current affairs, and started questioning each and every thing happening around me. I also started reading Economic Times and a few business magazines regularly. This proved to be of immense help. I started attending my GDs with full confidence. By the end of the GD/PI season, I had skipped two calls, got three rejects, and five converts. Finally going to join IMI, Delhi.
Mostly in life, once you get what you wanted for too long, you start reliving the memories of the whole journey which led you here.
Early risings from the bed, cursing the company bus timings;
Moments of feeling low when I couldn't score well in the coaching "test series";
Feelings of loneliness and that I'm missing out big time on life;
Times of self-doubt..
I've been through all this. And much more. And I'm much more confident and happy than I was before experiencing and coping up with these. This is what I toiled for a whole year. Finally, the hard work has paid off.
So, my biggest advice to the aspirants- dig in, and find whether you actually want it. Ask questions to yourself- are you ready for it ? will this make your career better ? and most importantly, what impact would this course have on your overall personality ?
The day you are able to find the answers to these questions, you are absolutely ready to choose your path. And trust me, once this exercise is done, more than half the battle is won. That's right. If you know thyself well, no interview can stop you from realizing your dreams.
Another piece of advice:
Most of the IT junta hates the company it's working for. The grass invariably seems greener on the other side. There's my simple advice-you HAVE to work here for some time to come. Accept this fact instead of cribbing, and start looking for opportunities. In a movie called "Evan Almighty", there's a very thoughtful dialogue-"God does not give you what you ask HIM for. He gives you the opportunities where you can prove yourself."
I was fortunate/sensible enough to get one thing straight, early in my career. All the successful IT companies have been built out of sheer hard work, strong value system and professionalism. Its like- there's an ocean of knowledge flowing at your place. Some people stand with a fork, some with a spoon and a few with a bucket. YOU have to decide what you're going to stand with. There's a lot to learn, wherever you're working. My senior manager is the person who taught me some of the best lessons of my life. I'll always be indebted to her for the same. The team meetings/discussions taught me something that no GD/PI coaching can ever teach you. The hectic schedules of my project and the gruelling deadlines taught me all the time management needed for an exam like CAT. Of course, extra reading and taking regular tests is very important.
Go on puys ! If you believe in yourself, there's no one- I repeat, No One who can stop you from achieving what you deserve. Clichd as it may sound, but still works nonetheless.
And of course, it goes without saying- PG rocks, and is a must for every serious MBA aspirant. There's a lot to explore here-pagalpanti ki koi seema nahi :D
All the best, and God Bless !
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